My Fitness

Thursday, September 14, 2017

that was hard (Lucas Xavier's birth story)

By my calculations his due date was August 31. My midwife Mercy, who knows a lot more about these things, said September 1. But I had a feeling it would be much longer than that because my kids have all ranged from 5-15 days late. With all the other babies I tried every trick to start labor or turn false labor true. Nothing ever worked and only left me exhausted. So I did no tricks this time. I even prayed but God's plan was not altered.

For 3 weeks I've had bouts of false labor every few days. This week, I had bouts every day that were so realistic that I canceled plans! The big kids played at the Gonzalez's house all day Tuesday BECAUSE MY WATER BROKE. The midwives came over and spent the night as contractions faded away. And in a truly over-the-top-and-competely-way-too-dramatic-Lauren Mulford-way, the sac resealed itself.

Wednesday was Micah's 6th birthday. He was hoping for a birthday buddy. Micah asked if we could name the baby "Toot" claiming that it came to him in a dream. So, Baby's nickname is Toot (or Toots). Around 8pm some more contractions started.

Thursday at 4am I awoke to sharp contractions right on top of each other. I had to cancel my Thursday morning ballet class which really bummed me out. I love that class. I thought this was more false labor. But these contractions were so intense that real or not, I couldn't handle them.

My D-Group (well, every d-group) has been memorizing Isaiah 52 these past 12 weeks. The verse that has been my tether to sanity and holiness has been, "The Lord will go before you and the God of Israel will be your read guard." I would repeat that verse over and over these past few weeks. It got me through the worst of my mind games. During labor right before the end there's a period of about 15 minutes to an hour where baby is getting into his final position and mama is thinking of how to escape and give up. I could recognize it and got the midwives back over here telling them I was "in transition."

[mini-preaching: Transition is that time where you look around at the news and get filled with despair. It's when you hear of landslides and fires that kill thousands. It's when you see your house flooded and extremists marching in cities and so many Americans think of Jesus as a white Republican. You look around thinking that there's no way to survive this. There's no hope for humanity. Christians don't even know Christ. What can we do except give up and escape? But God has the answer in Matthew 24:13, "But the one who endures until the end will be saved." -both in normal labor and eschatology. /sermon]

Holly woke up early and was so excited that she stayed up to be my first "labor buddy" of the day.

I visited the chiropractor and that kicked the contractions into real action. I got into the tub hoping that would make things easier. It does help but short of drugs, there is no "easy labor". I don't think I'll do that again. I wanted to die. I envisioned my body being popped apart like a toy skeleton. I also fell asleep between contractions and hallucinated. Guys, I was exhausted. I still am.

I decided to get out of the tub and head over to the bed. This is much easier to type; in reality I needed help and it still took me a minute to go the dozen feet. And my second labor buddy joined me. I had dreamt of Zoë helping me through labor. She's a real hero. I needed Felipe to hold my leg because I didn't have any strength left. And I squeezed Zoë with each push. She snuggled up to me and was so helpful and sympathetic. She's not yet 2! What an angel. I don't think I could have done it without her. I'm so grateful for a home birth where my big baby was able to participate.

Baby Lucas took about five sets of pushes to get his ginormous head out. And another couple sets to get the rest of his body out. It was HARD. I was so sleepy but knew I had to push through the exhaustion. Just another push and I could be done! And here he is! His position was a bit off because he had his hand pressed against his face. I thought that might be the case because several times over the last few weeks I felt him punch me and right before he came out he punched me again. HA! What a stinker!

We had to wait to find out Baby's sex until birth and so we had two names picked out, Lucas and Brooke. Holly is still waiting for Brooke to be born...I've tried explaining it to her but she has made up her mind that we WILL be having another baby. ha! She told me last week that as soon as the baby was born she was going to sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider to him. And she did. It was adorable!

Caleb can't stop saying how cute and adorable Lucas is. His voice gets super squeaky. Caleb is the best oldest child ever. He is so loving!

Micah right away wanted to sing to him. Lucas loved it. He stopped fussing and tried to focus on Micah. Then Micah went and got a toy that sang and gave it to him as a gift.

Guys, I have the best kids!

Holly

Caleb
Dada


Micah

Mama and Toot

Sunday, September 10, 2017

ec and the four pillars of counseling

Equipped to Counsel (EC) is a discipleship class through my church that I am currently taking.

Today's class we discussed the 4 pillars of Biblical counseling. They are summarized as Father, Son, Holy Spirit, love. You can see these pillars displayed in Christ's answer to what is the most important commandment. Christ answers, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:36-40) And in the great commission, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20) If we are to make disciples and teach them to observe all that has been commanded, what better way to do that than to use these two greatest commandments to do so since everything falls under these two commands? What better way to counsel people than to help them develop a better life with Christ?

Slightly expounded, the 4 pillars are: 1-God is central, 2-Exalt Jesus, 3-Depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, 4-Always act in love.

I want to briefly discuss the 4th pillar.

How often I've seen well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) Christians speak the truth without any tact, gentleness, or tenderness. These Christians have told me, "Is it loving to just not say anything?" Yes. Yes, if you cannot speak the truth in gentleness, since love is gentle, then it is better to not say anything. It is not loving to go around pointing out people's sins. That's arrogance. Love is humble. You are not "just trying to help." Because the truth knows that love is patient. It isn't easily triggered. If you have wisdom then you will know when and where to say anything. Wisdom knows when to hold its tongue.

If what you are saying doesn't directly glorify God, then don't say it. Using the Bible as a hammer is an ungodly use of Scripture. Instead, seek to edify the body. Don't try to show off how smart you are and how well you know the Bible. Consider keeping your mouth shut. You can know the Bible thoroughly and not know God personally.

Consider asking questions if someone comes to you for help and instead of beating them down and showing how much holier you are than they are, be tender and kind, sympathetic and loving. Know that their struggle is real. Go away in prayer and search the Scriptures for wisdom. Someone might be gluttonous, but that might not be the sin that needs to be addressed. Wisdom will help decipher. Berating a person for their sins is not helpful. You don't see Jesus doing that. He had sympathy for the crowds. But the arrogant, self-righteous Religious Elite, he beat down.

I'd rather be known as the one Jesus had compassion on than as a Religious Elite. I'd rather be like Jesus and show compassion.

edit to add that this is not the same as "If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all."  Often what is needed, godly, and holy is not going to be "nice". Ultimately it will be nice, but the perception will not necessarily be that way.

Friday, September 1, 2017

saved through childbearing

Let me describe contractions to you. In my five pregnancies this is the first that have been like this. (And even this pregnancy, it's not normally this bad)

Imagine sitting around minding your own business when you suddenly notice you need to take a deeper breath. Then you get a slight headache right behind your ears. You may need to gasp slightly for another breath when you get jabbed on the top of your head with something that feels like a dull rock. It drags down your spine and plunges its fist completely through your abdomen where it finally reaches up your chest to your throat to choke your neck. Meanwhile your belly turns into a massive stone that pushes against your pelvis and your joints crumble in pain.

Then nothing.

At first this happens at intervals of 40 minutes for a few hours, then 30 minutes for a few hours, then 15 minutes for a few hours, then 10 minutes for a few hours. You might think, "ah yes, it's getting closer. I'm almost done." You pray that you'll see that little face in just a few more hours. This goes on all day.

And then nothing.

It all stops. You go to bed. No baby. No productivity. Nothing has happened except that you are now exhausted. There's no one to help you bear this burden. There's nothing that can help (unless you want a real medical intervention that puts your life and your baby's life at risk).

Why would anyone willingly go through this?

What did Jesus endure and why would he willingly endure that?

Jesus' death was more than being tortured and hung. That has happened to plenty of people. Jesus' death was a spiritual death that we cannot fathom. Becoming sin for us means he was separated from the godhead trinity. He was alone. No one could help him. Why would he let them do that to him?

It's because he loves me. He didn't want to see me die that way, so he died that way. He saved me. And it was not worth it at all. What he has gained from me is incomparable to what I have gained from him. There's no paying this debt back to him. That's just the way he likes it. He gave me a gift and if I then earned that gift it'd be about me. Since I cannot do anything in return, the focus stays on him where it should always be.

Accepting Jesus' death as your own and then submitting to him is the only way to life.

Jesus endured the cross because of the joy he knew was on the other side - joy of heaven and bringing us to himself there. I can endure my "cross" because of the joy that is on the other side - joy of heaven and bringing a little living being into the world. (Hebrews 12:2)

Today was rough with the false labor. Today was my due date. I hate this. But I could never look at one of my children and think that it wasn't worth it. If at all possible I'd like a pass, but it's not about me. Not my will but the Father's be done. Christ looks at me and says, "worth it." He asked for this cup to pass from him but set my example before me saying, "not my will but yours be done." (Luke 22:42) If Christ can endure the cross, then I can endure a bit of pain.

I come to my salvation just like everyone else: acceptance of the sacrifice that Christ made. Childbearing doesn't save me. When you see a verse like 1 Timothy 2:15, the "through childbearing" doesn't mean childbearing brings salvation. Read that "through" as "in spite of" or even "in spite of the feelings associated with". Like, "I feel like I'm dying and surely this is a sign that I am cursed and full of shame." But Paul says, "I know you feel that way, but you'll get through this. That's not true. You are not cursed. You are loved." And we are saved by faith...John Piper has a whole article on it here.

So, while I feel empty and alone and dying, I can get through this.


But if you wanted to bring me a pumpkin scone from Starbucks, that'd help.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

predicting the end times

THE END IS NIGH!

There's a story about a couple of preachers walking down the road carrying a sign and calling out to people saying, "THE END IS NIGH!" One car drove past and honked and yelled at the crazies to get off the road. Right after the driver passed the preachers he turned the bend in the road and the preachers heard him crash. One of the preachers turned to the other and says, "Do you think we should be more specific and say, "The road is out ahead?"

It's a joke.

Back in December I calculated my due date to be August 31. Today is August 31. I've not had a single contraction. If this baby comes today it will be quick arrival. My midwife calculated the due date for September 1. Micah's due date was August 29 and he came on September 13. The earliest any of my babies has been is 5 day late.

With all these predictions, and guesses, and failed attempts of conveying when this pregnancy will end, I'm reminded of all those failed predictions of the end of the world. Remember Y2K? Or the Mayan 2012 scare? Then all the Biblically-based predictions that have obviously been wrong.

I have listened to several preachers predict the end day and I don't know why they waste their time when they can read Mark 13:32 where Jesus is telling his disciples that no one knows except the Father in heaven.

We can rest easy knowing that our salvation is secure no matter what happens here on earth. Christ came 2000 years ago in the "fullness of time" (Galatians 4:4) and he'll come again when the time is full again. For any one of us that day could be today. We are not promised tomorrow. One person's sin means death for another. You could get hit by a drunk driver. You could be the victim of a freak accident. You could be at the wrong place at the wrong time right when a fight breaks out. Whatever your destined path, God already knows of it. Your future is his past.

Luke 21:25-28 talks about the second coming of Christ. Matthew 24:8 specifically says that as we grow closer to the end, it will be like birth pangs. My birth pangs. My birth pangs were created to remind me, and in turn you, that the end is almost here. I'm going to give birth soon. It does not look like Baby is coming on the predicted days. It doesn't make those days wrong so much as it makes them wrong. ha! What I mean is that our predictions of when the baby will come are based on looking at the signs and the best we should say is "it's about time". But they're only guesses. Likewise we can look around us right now and see Houston under water, floods in India have killed over 1,000, landslides in China, Sierra Leonne, and Swiss Alps have taken lives, politicians and supremacy movements give us flashbacks to the 50s, and no matter how hard we try to get ahead there's some tax or bank or foolish man pulling us back under. I'm sure things felt more bleak in 1940s France. Or for Christians in hostile Iraq nowadays.

It's really depressing unless your hope is elsewhere.

I can let my prolonged pregnancy and the pain that comes with it beat me down and wallow in grief and self-pitty. Or I can redeem the time and make sure I have things prepared. I've written about this before. I've painted and packed and cleaned. I started preparing back in March with my kids schooling by making sure they started this school year back then knowing that this month would be rough. So we are having our summer vacation now when most schools are starting.

The analogy is for us to redeem the time for Christ too. We don't know when the end will be but we can see the signs. The crops are ripe for the harvest. The end is coming and we need to save as many as possible. Remember the story of the starfish? Some people were walking along the beach when they saw thousands of starfish washed up and dying. One man started picking them up and tossing them back in the sea. Another man asked him what he was doing since he couldn't possibly save them all. The first man said, "I know but I bet I made a difference to that one." as he tossed another back into the sea.

That's what we need to be doing as well. The baby will come whenever s/he comes and that's minor and really not that significant. Probably. But the purpose of birth pangs is to remind us of much more: Christ is coming. Whether he's coming for you or the end of the earth, he's coming and today could be the day. Today was the day for thousands. Is our hope in political parties and pastors and movement leaders or is our hope in the only one who can do anything with our souls for all of eternity?

You need to decide who you are going to serve. There's no neutral ground here. By choosing "self" you're choosing death, because you will die. It will not be pleasant. By choosing Christ, you are choosing the resurrection and life. It will be glorious. I'm not a gifted writer or theologian or evangelist, but if you feel like enduring a bit more, read how to choose Christ here.

Therefore choose life, that you and your
offspring may live...Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Jesus is life...John 11:25


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

warps

So earlier this week (or was it last week?) I shared my discovery of WARP! - worship, accountability, reading, prayer to gain a closer walk with Christ. You can read about that here.

But I heard a word spoken. One simple word that wasn't even directed at me nor did it have anything to do with this blog. But because we were created to do good works which the Lord had prepared beforehand for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), I decided it needed to be included in my system. If you know how I value evangelism, you will be familiar with how I end my presentation (if done formally) with how once a person is saved they are now called to go do good.

The word is service.

We are commanded to service each other: through love serve one another Galatians 5:13

Christ, himself, spoke about the Christian walk being servitude: But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be the first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many. Mark 10:43-45

Paul often refers to himself as Christ's servant and says we should regard ourselves as servants of Christ too. 1 Corinthians 4:1

Today someone in my small group at church asked if anyone was able to give her a ride to school for the next few days. I got to lend her our car and it was fun to see how everyone clamored over each other to see if they'd be the one to be able to serve her. It's because we have been renewed by the Spirit and take verses like 1 Peter 4:10 seriously: As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another...

Even as my family is enduring our own temporary hardship, we are seeking to do good (1 Thessalonians 5:15). We can't heal every wound or help every cause but where we can, we do.

James reminds us that having faith is of no use if it stops at your brain. If your faith has not transformed your soul, then your faith is dead. This is a very real and serious point. Faith without works is dead. James 2:14-26

And so, for now, that wraps up our WARP! But it is actually now WARPS! Which is great because God WARPS! us into the image of his Son, Jesus.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2




Monday, August 28, 2017

preaching myself out of gloom update with conclusion

If I may be permitted to be real and raw, I'll share my inner heart's fears with you. On the verge of blasphemy and sin, but with the hope that I will, if permitted and if you read to completion, encourage and restore both the reader and myself.
If a man known as "after God's own heart" can have doubts and fears, then I do not fear letting mine be known as well. Even in Jesus' interactions with people during his ministry he didn't demand perfect belief. He valued honesty and when a father asked for compassion and help, the father said, "Help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24) and Jesus helped him. He didn't chastise and mock him or treat him disdainfully. He had compassion on him just as usual.

I have this fear of jinxing my outcome. I think that maybe I was supposed to write something here and not there, or maybe it was the other way around. I can't be sure because it's completely made-up. I fear punishment for not following unspoken commands. Being able to articulate the fear allows me to kill it. I cannot jinx God nor can I cast a spell or recite an incantation that will give me my desired outcome.

Instead I must remember that trust in God includes trust in his timing. I've allowed him to time my children and space them to his perfect will. Then why now do I start to doubt? Pain. Discomfort. Darkness.

I must remember that we pray "Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven." And that means His way, not my way.

I must remember to not doubt in this darkness what he has told my in the light.

I must remember that he loves me. Specifically me.

I must remember that he is holding me. Individually me.

I must remember that even in the midst of discomfort, pain, and death that He is being merciful and gracious. These truths are not dependent on my experience nor my feelings.

I must trust God more than my own feelings since my feelings are fickle and deceptive.

I must remember that Christ died for me and has carved me into his palms. Definitively and singularly me.

I must remember that he does not see me as one of many but as Lauren, his daughter who he desires to have a close and personal relationship with.

I must remember that he cares for me.

He cares for me.

He collects my tears. He feels my tears.

And so I keep my eyes on the only One who can keep me from drowning. I set my mind on things above. I remind myself to seek the things of the Kingdom of God: steadfastness, gentleness, love, peace, joy, patience.

I preach to myself tonight. Galatians 6:8-9: "...but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." It is good to wait on the Lord. It is good to pray continuously. It is good to continue to pray and ask God for the desires of my heart until they are granted. And so tomorrow I fast. I cannot fast from food so I will fast from my computer and cell for 24 hours or until I have a baby. You will not be able to get ahold of me. I will only use my cell to call the midwife and Felipe. My hope is to seek the Lord, petition the Lord, and glorify the Lord. I will worship and pray and meditate.

I'll see you Wednesday.

**Conclusion**
It is Wednesday. I went into the fast knowing I would come out changed. I'd either have a baby or changed spirit. I am very happy to say that my spirit is changed. I look back at the gloom I felt with amazement. Perhaps it was the onset of a cold that had my body too worn or perhaps my gloom was a spiritual attack. I don't know. But the joy I have now is real despite the cold that I have.

There's nothing I can do about waiting for labor to start. My personal take-away is that God cares about his glory more than I do, so why worry about his timing? I thought it would be worshipful to have a baby early for a change. Nature has decided that my babies come 1-2 weeks late. I have several reasons for wanting an August baby, but with that deadline quickly approaching and labor starting and slowing yet again, it looks bleak.

Sometimes Lazarus stays in the tomb and sometimes the blind do not receive sight. Who am I to question? Not that I was questioning so much as begging for an early deliverance.

My take-away for you is this: When someone asks for prayer, you do not need to understand. You do not need the details. When someone asks for prayer, they are not asking for counseling and they are definitely not asking for you to tell them how stupid their request was. Only prayer. That's all. If God is able to grant you salvation, how much easier is it for him to grant an early birth? Is your God so small? Don't think this is being voiced in a condemning way. I'm not hurt or offended. My desire is to help the reader understand that godly love does not say "pray without ceasing as long as you understand and have made your opinion known." This is a lesson that I have learned the hard way over the years and one that if you read with humility then you will be able to learn quickly.

I'm going to go battle this mild head cold with some sleep and hope that labor picks up. I've not given up on August. I'm uncomfortable and now sick and sleepy. But it's all good. There's more preaching to be done.


Based on Daniel 3:18

Friday, August 25, 2017

warp speed ahead!

Yes, I said that. It is true. I've seen every episode of Star Trek. EVERY EPISODE EVERY SPIN-OFF EVERY MOVIE. (except ST: Enterprise, that one was just too weird for me)

Ever notice that "make it so" is essentially saying "amen"?

I wrote on Facebook that if Baby didn't show up in the next 24 hours I would start preaching. So here I go...make it so!

Thursday morning I was pondering over some answers I was giving to questions asked of me. The questions varied between specifics and hypothetical scenarios about how I deal with a situation or a passage or how would I advise someone else to deal with it. My answers were all strangely similar. They were variations on a theme: Pray, read, memorize, meditate, fellowship, praise. 

I wanted to make an acronym though (can you tell I'm tired? I haven't been getting a lot of sleep. And I hate it when people make acronyms for things.). Reading, memorizing, and meditating were all variations of the same thing: get into scripture. Fellowship is more than just fellowship it has with it confession of sins and keeping each other accountable. And praise is another word for worship. So I came up with....

WARP! - Lauren Mulford's Guaranteed Express Guide to Christian Maturity!!!!! On sale today...

(These bouts of false labor have me delirious. There's no guarantee. Only the Holy Spirit can bring about maturity. But this will be a helpful tool.)

WARP!- Worship Accountability Reading Prayer (exclamation point because it brings happiness and excitement!)

These aren't in a special order and I don't know if one part is more important than another or not. Maybe we can figure that out together. Well, I guess the order is special because it spells warp.

Worship
Christianity is about God and worshipping God because he is God.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. Psalm 145:3
Christians should worship the One they love. It's the top commandment and the first (or second depending on denomination) of the Top Ten. You shall have no other gods before me. Deuteronomy 5:7 
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'" Mark 12
1 Chronicles 16
We should worship God in everything we do and think and say. Being "Kingdom Minded" (seek first the Kingdom of God...Matthew 6:33will help us to stay focussed on Christ and help us to make the most of every encounter and redeem the time since the days are evil by taking and never giving (Ephesians 5:16). In all you do, honor Him. Whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God and so worship him continually. (singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16-17) Sometimes that will be a specific time of singing or dancing or painting or other artistic expression and sometimes you worship God by reading about him or praying to him or loving others.
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Hebrews 13:15

Accountability
At first it's tempting to call this "fellowship" but it's much more than the church-wide potluck. It's more than studying the Bible together or attending weekly services together. It means confessing. You have to confess your sins. You regularly have to confess your sins to an accountability group. Maybe your group consists of just one person, but I encourage to make it a larger group than that but not so large that you maintain anonymity. You need to be held accountable and have your partner(s) text you during the week asking how successful you've been and give words of encouragement or prayers or Bible verses. If you only have one partner it's possible that s/he will suck at his job and you may as well be talking to a stuffed toy. I've seen the dangers of people with a bunch of head knowledge with no accountability continue in their faith with no growth or maturity. If you have felt stagnant in your faith, consider confessing your sin to someone. Start looking for and naming your sin. Start with The Top Ten and see where you have coveted, and where you have idolized, and where you have forgotten the Sabbath. Find someone who will WARP! with you.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
I acknowledge my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. Psalm 32:5
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16 

Reading
MMR - the vaccine against ignorance. Memorize and Meditate on what you've Read. (well, if you don't know how to read or don't feel like reading, listening is good too. Some cultures don't have a written language yet after all.) I've seen people read their Bibles every morning for their entire lives and see that it makes no difference to their lifestyle. You can't read the Bible like you can a murder mystery novel (or even memorize it - doesn't Satan know Scriptures better than we do?). You can't read it just to get through it. You can read just a few sentences to a chapter maybe and seek ways to apply it immediately. Just because you read something doesn't mean you understand it. Figure out what it means. Go to the ESV page and search for key words and commentaries. Go to DesiringGod.org and search for the topic mentioned in the passage. I really like to use a Hebrew Interlinear Bible to see if I am understanding the translated words correctly.

Read the Bible. Take a little piece of it and memorize it. Meditate on that bit through the day.
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:12

Prayer
Duh. You've got to pray. Funny story: once I was at a loss for words in my prayer and I actually said to God, "Why didn't you give an example of how to pray in the Bible? Like, why didn't you teach us to pray?" And right then I was like, "wait a second, that sounds familiar..." So I remembered the introduction to The Lord's Prayer in Luke 11. "Lord teach us to pray." and Jesus replied that they should pray, "Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation." He then told a parable about how one friend kept asking another for something until out of sheer annoyance the other gave him his request. "For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." And he made note that even bad parents give good gifts and so much more so does our good Father in Heaven give even better gifts.

If you don't know how to pray, read Luke 11:1-13. It might be beneficial to read a book by Stormie Omartian.

In The Lord's Prayer we see it broken into three main sections: praise, request (spiritual and physical), and confession. And so I often use this as an outline for how I pray...especially that night that I asked God for an example! Father, [hallowed is your name. Your kingdom come.] {praise} [Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins,] {physical request} [for wee ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us] {RIGHT?? go ahead and use that as confession since you don't do that} [And lead us not into temptation] {a spiritual request}

When I think about it, that summarizes my WARP! procedure as well. Praise is Worship; Request is Prayer; Confession is Accountability; Spiritual Request is by Reading. (So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17) It's actually a way of life. A living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) to take up your cross daily to follow Him (Matthew 16:24). And perhaps that's how we can pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)...hmm. That's deep. Maybe the more false labor I have the deeper my walk with Christ will be.

So there you have it, Jesus agrees with me. I guess it is guaranteed then.


Just for fun:

SaveSave

Thursday, August 24, 2017

what's with all this labor

It seems that I am especially special regarding labor and delivery. As I composed that sentence I was joking but then it got me thinking that maybe the specialness is that I have a message to deliver and not just a Baby.

Each of my 5 pregnancies has ended this way: terribly convincing bouts of false labor that last all day and then suddenly stop. With Zoë this happened for 5-6 weeks. With Caleb, my first, it happened for 2 weeks and then went into a 72 hour real labor. I do not know of a single other woman who has had this much false labor.

People tell me to take heart because these bouts of labor are accomplishing something. But they aren't. They are a waste of energy and time and carry nothing but false hope for deliverance.

So why does it exist then?

I'm sure medical science will figure it out eventually. In the meantime we'll have to settle for the real reason: it's a warning that the end is coming and you need to get ready.

This us my fifth baby. I'm ready. We have not only everything we need

(all the requested items and our cradle with baby clothes for either gender and blankets)









but we do not have any of the things we know we will not need.
(no seriously. This $30 thermometer will tell you if your baby's room is too hot or cold. Felipe was convinced we needed this with our first.)



But I still used the time wisely. I need to get this house ready to sell. Even though I felt like I wasted the day just existing in pain and accomplishing nothing, as soon as the mini-war was over I got three bedrooms and a bathroom ready for the end sale.

I was pretty angry. Was God being mean to me? Unkind? Or maybe my body just doesn't work correctly. And then Felipe reminded me that Jesus spoke about end times being like a woman in labor. In Matthew 24:8 Jesus says, "All these are but the beginning of the birth pains." And then in verse 13, "But the one who endures to the end will be saved...and then the end will come."

I knew that he'd say that too but it wasn't until he actually said it that I heard it. There have often been times when I tell my friends what they already know to help them solidify the truth in the hearts. Their heads, my head, already knows but sometimes it takes someone else saying it for it to get past our ears.

I immediately felt better. I'm here for a purpose and that's to proclaim the gospel of Jesus so prepare yourself to be evangelized. Here I go.

Just like labor pains intensify and die away in waves of horror so do wars and earthquakes and supremacy movements and crazy people who think they're like gods. These are given to us to serve as warnings that the end is coming. To the non-Christian it's of little use. To the Christian it's a reminder of your calling.

The calling is to let people know that God created things to be good. Sin entered through people's will. Sin separates us from God. We are tainted and He is pure. He has made a way for us to be pure. That way is through the sacrifice of Someone who is already pure. You will not find that Person anywhere but in Jesus. He lead the perfect life and died a criminal death accepting the sins of all mankind. He then rose from the dead and is readying heaven for those who believe and repent. If you can see yourself as less than perfect then you will need Someone who is perfect to get you to heaven. If you do not exist in heaven, you will have an eternal death in hell. Once you repent of sinning and decide to follow Jesus you will find joy in every difficulty. And you will find plenty of difficulty. This decision to follow Jesus is not a fairy tale ending. It's just the beginning of the best and most epic adventure ever. It is not for wimps or quitters. The Bible literally says we will need to fight.

Remember the story of the dishonest manager? He saw his end coming and made preparations. Jesus said that he was more intelligent than his own people who just sit around accepting their fate and the fate of others. Instead, look out at the crops of souls and see that they are ready to be harvested. Have compassion on them. He is sending us out to labor in his harvest. I am literally laboring as I labor in his harvest...yes, contractions have started again but don't tell Felipe because he said that they would and I didn't believe him.

After all whats the point of a Christian being in pain unless she can use it to point others toward Christ? I wrote previously about reading through 1 Peter and it becomes relevant again:
1:6-7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith -more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
3:14-17 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, not be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are wandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
4:12-13, 16-17  Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed...Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
So there you have the real reason for my labor pains. My false labor is serving as a reminder to preach the gospel to my friends and family who are heading to hell. It might seem nice to just "live and let live" but what kind of a friend would willingly let another suffer? That's no friend. My life is not my own. I am not from a kingdom on this world. And my King has asked me to be an ambassador for Him finding His other lost children. If that is you, let me know. We have a lot to talk about!

Ephesians 5:15-16:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
 Any day not used to serve the Lord is evil. How dare I say this day of false labor was a waste of time and energy. How foolish! If I had been wise I would have used the day to meditate on the goodness of God and pray for my brothers and sisters who haven't returned to their King and Father yet. So I use my husband's gentle and kind reminder to now look carefully how I walk (and labor) and try to make best use of even this time.

I had been embarrassed about all the false alarms, like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. But I am not making this stuff up. My labor is coming not from my will. It is by God's design. You Christians might get tired of hearing me say "maybe this is it" but instead of hearing me say that, hear instead your calling to proclaim Christ in all circumstances and use your resources to reach the lost. I won't be embarrassed anymore. And you can use reminders anyway.

My life is not my own. My labor will now be a labor of prayer for your non-Christian souls. I hope you will find this amazing grace that can save a sinner like me. Like you. I once was lost but the King found me. He can find you if you let Him. I once was blind but He gave me sight. He can heal you too. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

an encouraging note

Sometimes it's the smallest thing that can make someone's day. Don't hesitate to be someone's hero by writing them a few sentences or complimenting their outfit or smile. It could make a big difference.

I'm going to keep this short. It was long. Now it's short. Tonight at D-group I received this note from a fellow sojourner and it really lifted my tired spirit. (My (nearly) two year old kept me up so late last night.)



Monday, August 21, 2017

things work out

I wanted to attend CCEF's National Conference. So I emailed them to ask if there was a way to attend for free and they said I could be a volunteer. That's great. Now I just need a babysitter for the rest of the kids which I think I should be able to find. If you are local to me, let me know if you'd be willing to watch my oldest 4.

I have not yet completely comprehended that I'm about to have 5 kids. It's surreal.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned is that a good diet (for me that's extremely low sugar) is necessary for proper brain function. Earlier I was feeling conflicted between what I knew to be true and what I was feeling. Luckily I wasn't so far gone as to not be able to discern that certain thoughts were not from God and not helpful. In those dark moments I remembered that the truth of God's promises are not dependent on how I feel. I've been reading through 1 Peter and so far the first 3 chapters have been wonderfully encouraging.



As I recently updated my fundraising campaignI am tempted to feel defeated and give up. But this story is not over yet. It looks like I have to get a job. Someone lied to me and said, "You're 9 months pregnant. No one expects you to do anything." But if not me, then who? Who will take care of these children? Who will clean the house? Who will teach the children? Who will ready the house to sell? Who will pack? There's only me. Better people have gone through worse. This is my calling and God will equip me. Tiredness is ok. It's ok to not be comfortable. It's a bit late to start idolizing comfort!

Everything will be okay.

Monday, August 14, 2017

support Baby Mulford #5 -with updates

I hesitated to even make this donation page because of how scary it is to be this vulnerable about being in need. Consider praying for us. Consider giving to our YouCaring page. Even $10 can buy a box of diapers.


The way I see it is that there are far better people going through much worse.
Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? Job 2:10


YouCaring link to help with Baby Mulford #5
Help us welcome our newest addition to our family! Medical expenses and the need for a new vehicle as well as fixing our home to sell so we can move into a smaller, more affordable place has us in need. Here in the Mulford household we believe God when he says that children are a blessing. We believe every child of ours has been given life for a purpose and a reason. We believe we are to raise our children to be lights to this dark world. We are hopeful that Jesus Christ's Church will come alongside of us as we affirm that new life is good. If you are able to help us, please consider walking with us in prayer and support. 

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I have learned the secret of facing abundance and need: I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4

Baby's first picture in January. The technician was moved to
tears because she had never seen such a young fetus. She said
it was a testimony to life. We could clearly see the heartbeat
of Baby and she guessed Baby couldn't be more than 5 weeks
old because of how tiny Baby was! What a blessing!
This was a project we did after our fourth was born. This is my
favorite piece of art in our house! You can see it if you come
visit hanging in our front hallway.
Zooming into the corner you can see our tiniest sapling represented. 
One of few pictures of our entire family. I am 6 months pregnant here.
This was a photoshoot I participated in to raise funds for a local
pregnancy center. Choose life so you may live!



wordless book

I've been brainstorming ways to evangelize. Evangelism is a passion of mine even though I am quite ineloquent, inarticulate, always say the wrong thing, and have otherwise never had any effect on turning someone's heart toward Christ. You are reading the typings of history's worst evangelist. (that's special, right??)

So I'm trying to think of ways to make myself suck ever so slightly less and less and maybe even one day be successful. I've read books, THE book, brainstormed techniques, practiced techniques, and then came up with this mini-book idea.

It isn't original to me. Others have made variations of the theme. Charles Spurgeon is accredited with the first. I wanted to specifically redeem the rainbow. Some have stolen the rainbow away from meaning God's Promise and His Faithfulness to instead mean a godless state lacking humility and love.

Starting with the outer bow, the colors represent as following:
GREEN-In the beginning God created and it was good. Genesis 1
BLACK-All have sinned. Romans 3:23
RED-The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
WHITE-Repent and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out. Acts 3:19
Yellow or GOLD-Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Acts 16:31
GREEN-We are created to do good. Ephesians 2:10

As long as the gospel message is there (namely, you need reconciliation through the blood of Christ and he gives it freely etc) the colors are their verses can be switched as best suits the presenter. Maybe it isn't obvious, but since the entirety of Scriptures is for the gospel proclamation there will be multiple options. This is a tool, not dogma. 

I got my pictures off the internet in my mock-up book. My intention is to change my wordless book into a minimal word book almost like a track. I'd like to be able to adhere the verses to a color coded felt book but I haven't done that yet. My felt is upstairs and at 9-months pregnant, I am tired. Going upstairs is hard.

I made these for my kids and if you want a copy I can figure out how to email you my Pages file. 




Thinking about street evangelism I've been toying with the idea of maybe a shirt design or banner design but so far both a really expensive. That's my biggest obstacle in all my ideas is resources. 
I think all my ideas are great, obviously, but I have no way to execute them. I'm not good at talking to people and am not extroverted. Even my best friend gets frustrated with me because I don't say the exact right thing. If I can't even talk to the one person who professes to love me, it's no wonder that I so excruciatingly fail at all other conversations. BUT when I use art to express my thoughts and allow the words of others, whether through song lyrics or painted verses, to express my heart, then I feel, at least, that communication happens. 

I do not have much talent of any kind that would benefit the church. One area that I have a little talent in is dancing. I'd like to incorporate these colors into a themed dance. Six dances with a pause between each perhaps with the dancer explaining what their color represents. Then at the end having it all pull together. We'll see what comes of it. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

science and us

I'm compiling these articles for my own benefit. You may find them interesting as well.

Gerald Schroeder




More from Gerald: http://geraldschroeder.com/wordpress/?page_id=53

It's sad that so many Christians are afraid of science or see science as the enemy. Science is the language of God.

Redeeming Science -by Vern Poythress







Thursday, July 27, 2017

daily devotions

I tried to make a video about how I organize my daily devotion. It did not go well. Mostly, I am not practiced or skilled in making videos. I was aiming for about 3 minutes and it was about 20 minutes. I deleted it. It was ridiculous! You could read everything I said in that video in far less time. I might try again and then update this post with a video at the end. In the meantime, here's my run down:

You need to have a daily devotion time. It doesn't matter what you call it. If you have a special name, use that. Popular names include: Bible time, quiet time, devotional time, prayer time, and more. The idea is that it's time set aside for you and God. Some benefits of this time can be found in numerous posts online including THIS ONE from Focus on the Family, which is often a good resource.

Mine fell apart but you can order one HERE
The absolute essentials for your personal Bible time is a Bible. It can be physical or electronic or even audible. Some people benefit from journals to write down key concepts and prayers. Some people use a highlighter or pencil/pen to underline verses that seemed memorable. Some people benefit from using a devotional book to lead them through their Bible study - this can be good so you hear different perspectives that you might not have considered but it can also be bad if the source is simply wrong about what the passage means. Critical thinking and a discerning spirit are necessary to navigate which resources are good. THIS is a devotional that is emailed to you each morning. -that's extremely convenient!

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14
I have my quiet time in the morning. I awake 30 minutes earlier than my kids so I have time to get distracted and refocused before making them breakfast. If I wait until they are awake, it won't be too quiet. It isn't necessary to do it in the morning. Some people aren't morning people. I'm not a morning person but have still found that it's more beneficial in the morning because I can then think on those things throughout the whole day. It is better to have a quiet moment with God at lunch or right before bed than to not have it at all or once a week at church. There isn't a holier time of day. You don't get more points for having it at 7am than you would at 7pm. There's no points to be had!

you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
Whatever you decide to do, do it out of love and not a feeling of religiosity or superstition. If you choose to only read, that's ok but make sure you're not being lazy. If you choose to take notes and thoroughly study with commentaries and books, make sure you have pure motives and aren't trying to be self-righteous and superior. I have found it very helpful to write down in my outline what I have studied. I tend to be a more kinesthetic learner and will retain info that I write and can revisit longer.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16
I go through the Bible line-by-line instead of topically. Topic studies have their place when they are needed, but going through every verse of the Bible means you don't get to skip the unpleasant topics. (each person will have their own idea of which topics are unpleasant) If you go through every verse in the Bible you will cover every topic.

...but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6
Start with prayer. Simply saying, "Turn my heart to you in this time and help me please you." is enough. Here's a short article on PRAYER and a BOOK that I love and helped me when I was a beginner; Stormie Omartian has other books on prayer that are beneficial to different life circumstances. My daily prayer is basic and variations on this idea: God, help me to be encouraged, convicted, and cleansed, and help me to focus on you, learn from you, and worship you. Mostly I want to worship God during this time. If I worship God, everything else will fall into place.

Start with just a paragraph, and then maybe a chapter. Depending on variables, maybe you can read an entire book. Some books are really small. There will be seasons when you completely forget to

not glamorous
have a daily quiet time for months, and times when you remember but can't figure out to make it work, and times of great growth and sweet spiritual communion. There will always be a reason to not study the Bible. I have a mountain of clothes to be put away right now, for example. But if I die tonight I will look back glad that I chose to spend time with God instead of with cleaning. Of course, I could pray and recite verses while cleaning...

Well, there are many more spiritual disciplines that I work throughout my day and week. Perhaps I will write on those in the future. I'm inconsistent and forgetful. My desire is toward God and as I grow I'm getting better at consistency. You will too: You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

From Elisabeth Elliot Quotes Facebook page

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

kindness leads to repentance

There exists a type of shame that reveals our sins to us. With our eyes open to our sin, this shame leads to repentance. This is good. We do not need to wallow in our shame. We need to repent. It is a kindness of God to allow this shame. This kindness is love. 

To my shame, I was inspired by past teachings and remembered this right after I yelled at the kids for bickering. Shame is ok if it leads to repentance. Well-placed shame is a gift from God that leads to conviction and restoration. "If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17"

It is easier to be myself; to sin. I must die to myself every day and take up my cross if I am to follow Christ.